Every competent adult has the legal right to accept or refuse any recommended health care. This is relatively easy when people are well and can speak for themselves. Unfortunately, during severe illness people are often unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate their wishes – at the very time when many critical decisions need to be made. By completing an Advance Health Directive, you can make your wishes known before this happens.
What is an Advance Health Directive?
An Advanced Health Directive is a document that states your wishes or directions regarding your future health care for various medical conditions and it comes into effect only if you are unable to make your own decisions.
You may wish your directive to apply at any time when you are unable to decide for yourself, or you may want it to apply only if you are terminally ill.
A good example of this is where someone does not wish to have certain treatment due to strong opinion on the subject or religious beliefs (certain religions forbid blood transfusions). You can specify whether or not you are to be resuscitated in certain circumstances and also give instructions to your family regarding life support and other issue.
Can anyone make an Advance Health Directive?
Yes, anyone who is over eighteen years of age and is capable of understanding the nature of their directions and foreseeing the effects of those directions can generally make an Advance Health Directive.
What do I need to consider before making an Advance Health Directive?
You should think clearly about what you would want your medical treatment to achieve if you become ill. For example:
- If treatment could prolong your life, what level of quality of life would be acceptable to you?
- How important is it to you to be able to communicate with family and friends?
- How will you know what technology is available for use in certain conditions?
If you wish to complete an Advance Health Directive, you will need to consult with a doctor in relation to the document.
Can I request Euthanasia?
The purpose of an Advance Health Directive is to give you confidence that your wishes regarding health care will be carried out if you cannot speak for yourself. However, a request for euthanasia would not be followed, as this would be in breach of the law. Under the Queensland Criminal Code, it is a criminal offence to accelerate the death of a person by an act or omission. It is also an offence to assist another person to commit suicide.
What do I do with my completed Advance Health Directive?
You should keep it in a safe place, and you should give a copy to your own doctor, to your attorney for personal/health matters if you have appointed one, to a family member or friend and, if you wish, to your solicitor.
If you are admitted to hospital, make sure the hospital staff know that you have an Advance Health Directive and where a copy can be obtained. You may also wish to carry a card in your purse or wallet stating that you have made a directive, and where it can be found.
How often should I update my Advance Health Directive?
It is strongly recommended that you review the document every two years, or if/ when there is a major change in your health status (e.g. if you are diagnosed with a serious illness).
For all enquiries regarding an Advanced Health Directive , please contact us on 07 5536 9777 or by email [email protected].